Chris Neary is a producer for On the Media.
OTM Staff Picks Volume 44
Monday, February 11, 2013 - 02:58 PM
A few of our favorite things. We do this every week.
Bob Garfield Naturally I binge-watched 13 hours of House of Cards via Netflix. It was immensely satisfying, the way I imagine going on a cocaine binge might be (if I were a coke user, which I never have been). The writing is good. The acting is good. The direction, by about 6 different folks, is good. What's odd about the show is that the journalistic and legislative details are sometimes dead on, yet the central conceit is preposterous. House majority whips are powerful, but not in the far-flung ways Kevin Spacey's character supposes. And while Washington reporters do a lot of sleazy stuff -- horsetrading and on-background deals, for instance -- they don't impersonate cops and burglarize restaurants. The sleeping with sources business is most likely pretty rare, too. The ambitious character played by Kate Mara would have been blog-exposed in a heartbeat. All that said, Robin Wright -- as Spacey's NGO-running wife -- is fantastic, and the series is worth watching for her performance alone.
Logline: The story of three dysfunctional women in their 30s living their lives the way they want, even if society tells them they should have it all figured out by this point.
Logline: A soap about the haves and the have-not's of California’s most seductive city, Venice. The drama will focus on two rival families and a forbidden and dangerous romance emerging between them as the two families battle for control of Venice. (editors note: will they go all the way and name the lead characters Romeo and Juliet?)
Logline: Ninety-seven years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization, a spaceship housing the lone human survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth to investigate the possibility of re-colonizing the planet.
Logline: Focuses on the usual, everyday drama surrounding a family business -- except this family is in the business of executing hits as assassins for the U.S. government.
Logline: ER, The West Wing and Top Gun collide in this young ensemble about the working men and women on board a U.S. aircraft carrier. Equipped with a 500-foot landing strip, a nuclear reactor and 6000 souls on board, the drama is an upstairs/downstairs look at pressure-cooker lives of the U.S. Navy.
Special Best Names Picks:
The Donor Party
Logline: Comedy centering on a man trying to move to the next stage in life only to discover he's already there -- since he's got children from early life sperm donations. The kids belong to a widow trying to get life together and her lesbian neighbors.
Keep Calm and Karey On (previously the untitled Andrea Abbate)
Logline: Karey is the clean-nosed black sheep in a family of petty thieves, drug addicts, and narcissists -- but when her brother is sent to prison, she decides to raise his kids along with her adopted African-American son and give them the normal lives they deserve.
Friends With Better Lives
Logline: A group of thirtysomething friends who each think the other has it better.
An astonishing documentary: The Gatekeepers. Shin Bet is Israel’s secretive FBI-like agency which tracks both Palestinian and Israeli terrorists in Israel and the territories. Director Dror Moreh says The Gatekeepers was inspired by by Errol Morris’ Fog of War, by showing that it was possible to probe the hearts and minds of people who have held extraordinary power. In this case, Moreh gives us a glimpse into the souls of six former heads of the deeply influential internal security service. After 40 years of engagement in the enterprise of occupation, Shin Bet’s former chiefs have come to the conclusion that it simply doesn’t work. “We became cruel,” said one. “These moments end up etched deep inside you, and when you retire, you become a bit of a leftist,” said another.
My staff pick for the week is Michael Ian Black. You may know him from the best movie of all time, Wet Hot American Summer, or perhaps his turn as snarky commentator in VH1’s I love The 80s series. I don’t think there’s anything he has done that I haven’t liked, and a friend recently shared his podcast with me, Mike and Tom Eat Snacks. It’s MIB and Tom Cavanagh trying and rating different snacks together and having long tangential conversations.
If you’re in New York, you can also come see him as a VIP guest on NPR’s Ask Me Another in a few weeks. I will be there, MIB will be there, you could be there too. It’s going to be great.
Bonus Pick: Burning Love
Burning Love is a web series from Yahoo that came out last year. It is a truly amazing parody of The Bachelor with an top-rate cast including... Michael Ian Black (he plays Bill Tundle, the host). Sadly fireman bachelor Mark Orlando’s exploits are no longer online – they will premier on E! later this month – but this Thursday is the beginning of the second season. We will get to see Julie, one of last season’s contestants navigate her way through a sea of eligible bachelors in “the most romantic web series that will ever be.” Obviously it starts on Valentines Day.
DEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD. It's a cancelled HBO Western about life in an unannexed frontier town. It takes a little bit to get where it's going, and then the payoff is just so good, mostly because of the characters. It's one of the only TV shows whose characters I think about when I'm not watching it.
Here's a pretty perfect scene where a Chinese opium dealer meets with the man who unofficially runs the town to complain about some stolen dope. The good part starts at 2:35. Just as a disclaimer, the language in here is deeply foul.
I’m going camping this week and it’s reminded me of the last place I went camping, a place in Down East Maine improbably called Fairy Head on the Bold Coast, a spot I highly recommend. That said, don’t go. Its selling point, aside from its beauty, is its splendid isolation. It sits on the easternmost corner of the mainland United States with no development between you and forever and while I enjoyed the view and the prelapsarian setting and the blueberries that were in season, I was especially glad there was no one else there (except my wife). So either go now, when it’s probably sparsely attended or admire it from afar. Thanks.
I think I’ve already picked a number of Gangnam Style videos for my staff picks in the past, but this one is probably my new favorite: